mercury tipped bullets?

ok i was readying a book and in it one of the characters has a pistol loaded with mercury tipped rounds (caliber .380)

i would like to know why would one do that and what benefits it brings to the stopping power it the round.

12 Answers

  • First of all, mercury is poisonous. You should not handle mercury without some form of protection. It is normal for hollow point bullets to have a cavity in the tip, the question is how do you keep the mercury there while being handled, loaded, shot, etc.....I'm sure there has been a movie or two showing how this may be accomplished using something like sealing wax to keep it in place. There is no question about what it would do upon impact though. Mercury, although atomically lighter than lead, is more dense than lead. When the bullet hits an object, the lead part will slow down faster than the mercury, thus allowing the denser mercury to penetrate AHEAD of the lead bullet. Have you ever played with mercury? Dropped it on the floor? When mercury strikes an object, it breaks up into smaller bits. The heavier the impact, the more bits it breaks into. Essentially what it will do is act like a small shotgun blast ahead of the bullet, perforating the tissues ahead of the bullet and allowing deeper penetration and slower expansion. I have never seen the actual effects in ballistic gel, but I would think that the overall cavity left behind would be smaller because of those facts, negating the desired effect of a hollow point round which is rapid expansion and energy transfer to produce a wide cavity rather than a narrow, long cavity. And then you have the that small size, it would be near impossible to remove and it would probably be mostly absorbed or oxidized by the body. I am not sure what the LETHAL dose is for mercury, but since they used to inject it as a treatment for herpes, I doubt that a drop alone would be fatal.

  • Fulminated Mercury Bullets

  • Its not the poison of the Mercury that is fatal, there wouldn't be enough to cause mercury poisoning. Its the fact that it will not penetrate like a normal ball ammunition. There is a cavity in the bullet where the Mercury sits (which any somewhat educated person knows that Mercury is a toxic metal in liquid form) When the projectile is fired the Mercury gets pushed to the rear of the bullet cavity. However, upon impact as the projectile starts to slow down the Mercury slams into the front of the cavity causing all of the energy (about a ton and a half) to be dumped into the target. Full metal ammo would enter the person, exit, and keep going. The difference would be a whole in someones head verses the head being blown apart and missing from the body. Its not the projectile that kills, its the energy transferred into the body that kills. Thats why a slower heavier is better than a smaller faster round. Same principles with explosives. The concussion wave turnng your internal organs into mush kills many more than the fireball

  • It brings nothing to the stopping power, which is, in itself a false idea. Some believe that adding the mercury make bullets more powerful and deadly by loading the tip with mercury. In a way, it does make them more deadly, as mercury is poisonous, and even if the victim is only wounded, the mercury will probably kill them, with time. Anyone caught with such a round would be tried for prohibited ammo, I am sure.

  • Mercury expands so much with heat that there'd be no way to keep it in a hollow point bullet when shot from a gun. A wax seal would instantly melt away. Even with a lead or other metal seal the expansion of the mercury would just split the bullet open in flight thus losing the mercury.

  • Elemental mercury is a liquid, but it's also heavier than lead, so when it is released from the tip of a round, it does a lot of damage to whatever it hits.

    Blood poisoning is not an issue in most cases, as elemental mercury is not readily incorporated into body tissues.

  • Well Hellsing is a very popular and mercury tips would be useless on a human (same damage as a regular bullet) but vampires. Now that is a whole new kettle of fish.

  • Most likely, they're not referring to elemental mercury, but to fulminated mercury. That substance explodes when struck or shaken violently, and was used in early percussion caps and cartridge primers. In theory, it makes a bullet which explodes on impact. In practice, such an explosion is not very powerful, and the shock of firing the gun would set off the round. It's strictly Hollywood.

  • "Day of the Jackal" by Frederick Forsythe would be another book that mentioned these mercury tipped bullets. As Duckman already described, the mercury, being much heavier, would explode through the lead covering and thus creating a devastating mini-shotgun effect.

  • the lead and mercury would meld as one making a gelatinous projectile that would actually start breaking up upon firing, by the time the mass exists the barrel it disintegrates into a non lethal non threatening projectile.

    Mercury fulminate is entirely different

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